Insulin-like growth factors (IGFs): Implications for aging

Pinchas Cohen, Ian Ocrant, Paul J. Fielder, E. Kirk Neely, Sharron E. Gargosky, Cheri I. Deal, G. Paolo Ceda, Oh Youngman, Hung Pham, George Lamson, Linda C. Giudice, Ron G. Rosenfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The insulin-like growth factors (IGF)-I and IGF-II are peptides with structural homology to insulin and potent mitogenic and anabolic actions in vitro and in vivo. IGF-I levels are growth hormone (GH)-dependent and vary strikingly with age. IGF-I levels are typically low in infancy and childhood, increase dramatically during puberty, and then gradually decline with advancing age. Whether age-associated changes in GH production or sex steroid secretion, or other unknown factors, cause diminished IGF production in the elderly remains to be determined. In the brain, IGF-II appears to be the most prevalent IGF, but a truncated form of IGF-I also has been recognized. IGF actions are mediated by binding to a family of receptors, which includes the insulin receptor, the structurally homologous type I IGF receptor, and the IGF-II/M-6 receptor, all of which are found in the central nervous system. Additionally, the IGFs bind with high affinity to a family of IGF-binding proteins (IGFBPs). Of the six known IGFBPs, IGFBP-2 appears to be the major one in the mammalian brain and is a major component of CSF. Immunoreactive IGFBP-2 has been identified in astrocytes, and its mRNA has been identified in fetal and adult brain and choroid plexus. The IGFBPs transport the IGFs in serum and other body fluids and appear to regulate IGF access to receptors. In vivo regulation of IGFBPs includes tissue-specific proteases, which cleave specific IGFBPs, altering their affinities for IGF peptides. Originally identified in pregnancy serum, IGFBP proteases have also been found in sera of GH receptor-deficient individuals, prostate cancer patients, severely ill patients, and in seminal plasma. IGFBP proteases may play an important role in regulating IGFBP affinity and the delivery of IGFs to target tissues. IGFBP abnormalities are now being recognized in a variety of clinical situations, including neoplastic disease. The IGF axis could have important implications in aging and in the brain. Therepeutic uses of IGF and IGFBP peptides may offer potential benefits to the elderly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-342
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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